I want to start my EMO blogging career not by sharing some stunning creative I have seen, or more importantly these days, experienced but by sharing my thoughts on the changing shape of the ‘marketing agency’ and how that shape relates to EMO and how it will affect the creative solutions we produce.
So, what do I mean by shape?
Clients are demanding new and different ways of approaching their marketing problems from their agencies. To quote an article I read in Campaign recently, the marketing director of a major retail bank said “In my siloed world, I just want people who don’t think in silos.”
A traditional ‘agency’ is ‘shaped’ around the multi-department structure. Planning, Media, Creative, Account Management, Production etc. All beavering away in their own silos on their ‘bits’ of the brief.
Many in our industry believe that this traditional silo structure is on its way out and in its place is a more collaborative way of working.
Setting up new agency, Now, strategist Kate Waters said their aim is to “…create a more fluid agency structure, organised not in departments but in ideas teams.”
Endorsing that thinking is Andy Fowler executive creative director at Brothers & Sisters who says “We wanted to create a much more collaborative agency – much less departmentalised – still with every skill you could imagine but working together in a more collaborative way.”
Agencies are ‘knocking down’ walls between departments. Skills and disciplines still exist but this integrated approach enables an agency to create more bespoke solutions to a client’s marketing challenges.
This is something that EMO and in particular its ‘Localisation’ offering is embracing and delivering.
Here at EMO we have the talent and experience from a host of different backgrounds that are able to work together to produce solutions that meet our clients’ needs. From a website design to an experiential event, from an ad campaign to social marketing.
Another major factor of this collaboration concept is the impact of digital technology.*
Today, digital is a common denominator of almost every form of marketing communication, it has created channels though which every big idea can be transmitted.
And so the big idea becomes the central core, and then the appropriate communication channels are selected for it. As a result, according to Dare’s deputy chairman, John Owen, “agencies need to write briefs that are less directional. They need to apply a more discipline-neutral approach.”
So what is the ideal shape for the marketing agency of the future?
In my opinion it is an agency that has a broad range of production capabilities ‘in house’ (geared to the digital age) that work closely together to ensure their expertise is shared throughout a campaign’s development.
Explaining the agency of the future Owen imagines it as “three concentric circles. The ideas are in the centre, with a variety of ‘in-house’ production skills surrounding them and beyond that are external production resources that are either unavailable or uneconomical to provide directly. The production skills blend with each other and with the planning core. There are no partitions either conceptual or physical.”
While there will always be a need for an agency to deliver a retail urgent, reactive response, this is best served by an underlying bedrock of multi-disciplined, collaborative talents, where ideas are at the very core and routes to market are diverse and emergent. Creative can thrive in an agency shaped like this, as can client business. It’s a shape that EMO can look to and see that, with ever-continuing moulding, it’s not all that far away.
*As if to emphasise its importance, the investment bank JP Morgan recently launched a $500 million fund to invest in digital and social media companies on the back of investor interest in Facebook and Twitter. It’s hard to believe that Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist 6 years ago!